In the past week I've gotten about 12 hours sleep, grown a beard, and developed a nasty gut from all the late-night pizza fixes. My legs ache from a lack of exercise, and sunlight - once a welcomed friend - is now my sworn adversary. While this might sound like the aftermath of a bad break-up, it's actually the result of my eagerly anticipated and equally feared (because of the aforementioned side effects) Zelda marathon. Sixty hours in Hyrule over the course of a week is no small feat and although my social life has taken a dive, and my girlfriend has on more than one occasion called me a slob, I've finally finished Twilight Princess, and boy was it worth it.
Now, I can read all of your minds (a side effect from some drug testing I did when I was desperate for tuition money back in college), and I'm willing to bet you're all wondering whether or not Twilight Princess is the Ocarina killer many have claimed it is. Has Ocarina's throne been toppled? Well, let me put it this way: If you've been looking for a reason to invest in a Wii, look no further. Twilight Princess is unbelievably epic and well-made, but as brilliant as it is, it also suffers from some control issues and plenty of been-there-done-that gameplay that follows the Zelda formula to-a-tee.
Twilight Princess is bound to evoke a feeling of déjà vu when you first boot it up from the Wii menu. It feels eerily reminiscent to Ocarina of Time, and that feeling stays with you for the better portion of the game's epic quest. Similar to Ocarina, Link begins his adventure in his home in a small village not unlike the Kokiri's, and quickly revisits locales that Ocarina fans will immediately recognize - though re-designed and much more detailed than ever before - replete with the same background music, only slightly altered to give it that 'new' feel. The basic Zelda formula hasn't been remotely altered either (though that's not necessarily a bad thing), meaning the bulk of the game is spent locating the dungeons, acquiring new weapons, and in turn using those weapons to solve progressively more challenging puzzles. Indeed, one could argue that Twilight Princess resembles its brother almost a bit too much, but it's not until much later in the game that Link's latest adventure really takes flight on its own.
Regardless of the similarities between the two titles, Twilight Princess takes a much darker approach to the series and offers a similar experience to Metroid Prime 2's light and dark worlds. In this latest instalment, twilight is casting its shadow over the land, and naturally our pointy-eared hero becomes the key to saving Hyrule once again. The majority of your time will be spent in the land-of-the-light, but in order to unlock most new areas, Link must transform himself into wolf form and team up with his tingle-esque friend Midna to gather enough light to return portions of the land back to its original state. In beast form, Link is essentially identical to his human self, at least as far as combat is concerned. The big differences between the two come in the form of the wolf's special abilities.
By using the d-pad, you can switch between various skills to help solve the many puzzles littered throughout the land. For example, by pressing right or left on the d-pad, you can activate the wolf's senses. Here you can view (in some cases) the scents left behind by key characters, as well as areas of the map where Link can use his paws (d-pad down) to dig up items buried beneath the ground, or as is often the case, dig under fences and buildings to progress forward. When all else fails and you're still stumped on a puzzle, take a walk around until you hear Midna's chuckle in the Wiimote's speaker. As annoying as it becomes (be sure to turn your Wiimote's speaker down a notch or two - you've been warned), Midna's laughter signifies a point-of-interest for Link. By pressing up, Midna will dash to higher ground, at which point you can lock-on to her and press the 'A button' to leap to greater heights and reach otherwise inaccessible areas.